Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gloria, Thank You for Your Dedication to Volunteering

Gloria J Bevilacqua, 83, went to be with the Lord Saturday, November 27, 2010 at Wilson Memorial Regional Medical Center. She was predeacesed by her parents, Stanley and Eleanor Mietus; brother, Richard Mietus and a grandson, Paul Monticello. She is survived by her husband, Samuel; children, Lonie (Harry) Hutchison, Victor, MT, Susan (Bruce) Fahrenz, Kirkwood, NY, Kerri (Robert) Kika, Binghamton, Carol (Sebastian) Monticello, Endicott, Gary Bevilacqua, Endicott, Donna (Bill) Weber, Endicott, Lori (Larry) Dixon, Yulee, FL; 14 grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren; sister, Dolly (Orlando) Ciotoli, Endicott; several nieces and nephews. She was a member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Endicott, and involved with its Chow Pantry for many years. She was an avid doll collector, doll maker, teddy bear collector and flower gardener. She loved spending time at family gatherings. She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and great-great grandmother.
Funeral services will be held Friday at 10:30AM from St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 200 Jefferson Ave, Endicott. The Very Rev. John Martinichio will officiate. Burial will be in Vestal Hills Memorial Park. The family will receive friends at the Coleman and Daniels Funeral Home Inc, 300 East Main St., Endicott, Thursday from 4-6PM. In lieu of flowers, contributions my be made in her memory to the Chow Pantry, c/o of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 200 Jefferson Ave., Endicott, NY 13760.

Published in Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin from November 30 to December 2, 2010 Email

Agencies working to help those most in need

November 29, 2010, 9:00 pm

If your biggest challenge of the holidays is fighting crowds at the mall, you've got it easy.

"Some parents say, 'Could you not bother giving my kids gifts? Just give me some extra food,'" said Kathy Pfaffenbach, supervisor of emergency services for Catholic Charities of Broome County.

That's how bad it is for some people out there.

Many local groups have stepped up to provide at least a bit of holiday cheer for those most strapped by tight economic circumstances.

.................Next time you're on Boscov's fourth floor, notice the little Christmas tree near the courtesy desk. It's the "Santa for Seniors" project, sponsored by the elderly-care agency called Home Instead and Broome County Council of Churches' Faith in Action program. Take a tag, buy the gift requested on it -- invariably humble ones, such as sugar-free chocolate or warm slippers -- then take the gift to that courtesy desk to be wrapped for free. Then leave it and the tag with the Boscov's staff for pickup and distribution by Home Instead, explained Rebecca A. Bradley, staff recruitment and retention coordinator for the agency. Call (607) 723-3600 for details.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Region's largest craft fair a festive break from traditional shopping

By George Basler •gbasler@gannett.com • November 27, 2010, 6:00 pm

VESTAL -- Joyce Thomas wasn't going to let cold weather and a few morning snow flurries discourage her from trekking to Binghamton University's West Gym Saturday.

Shoppers fill Binghamton University's West Gym looking for unique gifts at the seventh annual Holiday Traditions Craft Show. The event draws between 3,500 and 5,000 people and features artists and crafts people from across the region. (GEORGE BASLER / Staff Photo)

The 65-year-old Johnson City woman wasn't there to watch a sporting event, but to look, browse and possibly buy items from the 150 artists and crafts people who filled the gym and lobby for what organizers said is the largest annual crafts fair in the region.

The snow "made me think how sweet the season is," said Thomas, who comes to the event every year looking for homemade and special gifts.

The Holiday Traditions Craft Show, which was in its seventh year, draws between 3,500 and 5,000 persons and attracts vendors from across the Southern Tier, central New York and Pennsylvania who must apply and be selected to be part of the show, said Amy Hastings, who co-promotes the event with Sally Giannini.

Visitors "build relationships with local artists" and "find it a festive shopping experience," Hastings said.

Festive, but crowed: An hour after the show opened, the parking lot by the West Gym already resembled the lots in malls on Black Friday. Cars filled nearly every spot. Inside, the gym and lobby were crowded with shoppers, making it slow going at times.

"I can go to the mall anytime. This is one day a year," said Sue Watson, of Newark Valley, who like others at the show was looking for unique items.

The show promotes local crafts people, some of whom travel two and three hours to get to BU, Hastings said. The event also raises about $1,000 each year for the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW), she said.

"It's a nice way to start the holiday season," said CHOW Director Ed Blaine.

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Holiday Train Supports a Good Cause

By WBNG News

November 27, 2010

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) People of all ages bundled up tonight to catch The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train roll into town.

Each year the railway sends its Holiday Train on a tour through northern New York and Canada.
At each stop, the train opens its doors to a stage of entertainment and thousands of colorful lights.

This year there was a live performance by Canadian singer Melanie Doane.

"I think it's a great idea for the community CHOW is here and they're collecting food and you know this is the season for giving," said Dan Abashian of Apalachin.

The train will stop in Oneonta on Sunday at 3:15 pm.

It will then roll on to Cobleskill, Delanson and Schenectady.

Visitors are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items or cash that will be donated to local food banks in communities where the train stops.

Saturday's donations will go to help the Broome County Council of Churches and the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse, or CHOW, to feed the hungry during the holiday season.

This is the 12th year the train has teamed up with CHOW in Binghamton.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

GHS collects food for CHOW

November 24, 2010, 7:05 am

GHS Federal Credit Union said it is collecting nonperishable food items until the end of the month for donation to Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse. The credit union noted, however, that it will donate what it has on hand prior to Thanksgiving.

Collection locations include the GHS office on Front Street in Dickinson and the office on Court Street in Binghamton.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Binghamton High students to host Thanksgiving dinner for thousands

By George Basler •gbasler@gannett.com • November 22, 2010, 10:05 pm

BINGHAMTON -- An expected crowd of 2,000 people will fill the Binghamton High School cafeteria Thursday, and they won't be thinking about tests, homework and study halls. They'll be thinking about turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing.

Binghamton High students Claudia Kotchick and Harry Kammerma get ready for Thursday's Thanksgiving Dinner at the high school. Students have been organizing the dinner, which serves thousands, for 16 years. (GEORGE BASLER / Staff Photo)

For the 16th straight year, BHS students will serve a Thanksgiving dinner for the community. The event has grown into one of the largest annual holiday gatherings and a source of pride for those at the high school.

"The dinner is a staple of the good things that come out of Binghamton High," said senior Claudia Kotchick, 17, president of the school's chapter of the National Honor Society and this year's chairwoman.

Approximately 300 students, faculty and staff have volunteered to spend part of Thursday at the school, organizers said. Students and cafeteria staff will begin preparing the meals Wednesday.

In addition to dinners served at the school, community residents will deliver more than 2,000 meals to people at their residences.

The dinner served about 3,200 people last year, and the numbers are expected to be higher this year because of the economy, said Susan Phelps, a social studies teacher who is adviser to the National Honor Society.

Children will also receive a free book and toy but, unlike past years, the dinner will not feature a coat giveaway, organizers said. That had to be canceled because of concerns about bed bugs. In its place, students in the district's various schools have collected food and personal care items for Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse.

While a Thanksgiving meal is something that can be taken for granted, Thursday's event "makes you realize not everyone is so lucky," said junior Harry Kammerman, co-chairman of the serving committee.

Putting it on is fun, he added.

Money for the dinner comes from donations and student fundraising.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Temple Concord neighbors “CHOW down”

By: Sharon Nichols

Coordinator Adrienne Bennett in the Temple Concord Pantry.

Coordinator Adrienne Bennett in the Temple Concord Pantry.
On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, under the auspices of Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse, nearby residents visit the lower level of Temple Concord, which has served as a CHOW pantry for more than 17 years.

Adrienne Bennett, current coordinator of the Temple Concord Pantry, explained the operation: There are 29 CHOW pantries throughout Broome County, organized by the Broome County Council of Churches. CHOW evaluates applicants, assigns them to a pantry near their homes and notifies the pantry personnel of the clients’ family size and needs.

Temple Concord’s pantry is staffed by fewer than 10 volunteers, both Jewish and non-Jewish. Training of new volunteers addresses the physical operation and the expectations for client interaction. The training is intended to ensure that patrons of the pantry feel welcome and comfortable. The coordinator is responsible for scheduling volunteers, regularly inventorying supplies and placing orders with the CHOW warehouse for needed items.

Temple Concord provides the pantry with a section of its lower level, complete with shelving and office equipment. There is a collection drive during the High Holy Days and food donations can be dropped off in the street level lobby throughout the year. The temple maintains a CHOW fund available for member donations, which are forwarded to the CHOW office. While stock varies, the most needed items currently are bottles of fruit juice, canned fruit, gelatin and pudding mixes. Bennett noted that in the past, the pantry was able to provide coupons that could be redeemed at specific supermarkets for perishables such as eggs, butter and meat. However, only milk coupons are currently available.

Bennett has coordinated the Temple Concord Pantry for approximately 10 years. She enjoys talking with the clients and their children, and believes that her efforts make a difference in the community. A native of Brooklyn, NY, she has a daughter, Ricki, in Oakland, CA; a son, Mark, in Honolulu, HI; and a granddaughter in Walla Walla, WA.

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Hunger hits home: Area food banks see a nearly 25% increase in people in need

By G. Jeffrey Aaron •jgaaron@gannett.com •

November 20, 2010, 12:00 am

As the tough economy makes it harder for families to put food on the table, food relief agencies are becoming more resourceful as they work to keep pace with the increasing number of people needing their services.

Food cupboards, pantries and community kitchens are reporting a rising demand for their help, and at the same time, they are seeing a steady stream of food donations coming into their agencies.

The challenge, they say, is making sure the supply of donated food keeps pace with the rising instances of food insecurity.

"Food banks started as a way to rescue the surplus food in the system, but the food industry has gotten better at reducing that waste," said Natasha Thompson, president of the Food Bank of the Southern Tier.As a member of the Feeding America organization, the Food Bank supplies products for 188 feeding programs in Broome, Chemung, Steuben, Schuyler, Tompkins and Tioga counties.

"The system has changed, the sources have changed but distribution methods haven't," Thompson said.

On Nov. 15, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service reported that more than 50 million Americans, including more than 17 million children, lack consistent access to a nutritious well-balanced diet.

The report, titled Household Food Insecurity in the United States, is based on data collected by the federal government in December.

The sharp rise in food insecurity during the latest recession mirrors the findings in Feeding America's report Hunger in America 2010.

The study showed that the number of people seeking emergency food assistance each year through the Feeding America national network of food banks has increased 46 percent since 2006, from 25 million to 37 million.

Close to home

Feeding programs across the region are reporting similar increases.

Edward Blaine, director of the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse in Binghamton, said the number of people using the services of his agency's 30 food cupboards and 35 community kitchens has jumped by 24 percent this year. The agency limits its activities to Broome County.

Three years ago, the Food Bank of the Southern Tier distributed 5.19 million pounds of food through its network of 180 member agencies. It was food that found its way onto the plates of more than 9,000 people each week.

This year, the agency is working its way to distributing more than 7 million pounds of food and is on track to serve almost 11,000 people each week through its 188 partner agencies in the six-county area.

Meanwhile, the 24 feeding programs that are partnered with Ithaca's Friendship Donation Network are seeing a 25 percent increase in the number of clients it serves each year.

"Every single day you read about a firm closing and what you are looking at is a family in crisis," said Sara Pines, Friendship Donations' founder and past director.

"They may lose the rental apartment or their home, the family may break down and abuse may start or continue at a higher level," Pines said.

"They are insecure and don't know how they are going to meet the necessities of food, shelter and clothing. It's a destroyer of families and unfortunately, it's rising every day."

With more mouths to feed, hunger relief agencies are becoming more resourceful in soliciting their food donations.

In days past, food drives sponsored by schools, churches and groups such as the Boy Scouts were adequate.

Now, as the need rises, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon as the volume of donated food from local sources complements increases acquired through government channels.

"Sourcing food is still a challenge and we do look out into the network to bring food in from outside our service area," said the Food Bank's Thompson.

"Since the recession and with the new farm bill and the stimulus package, there's more money allocated for the federal government's commodities program, so we've been fortunate to see an increase there in the last three years.

"Meanwhile, we're turning over every rock to source the products locally," she said.

Sometimes, that means coming up with some innovative ways of convincing people to donate food.

Canstruction competition: Each year, the Food Bank sponsors a Canstruction competition, where local groups use canned food items to construct buildings.

After the structures are judged and the awards passed to the builders, all of the canned food used in the contest goes into the Food Bank's warehouse and is eventually distributed to needy families.

The Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse is working with Binghamton University on a similar food drive, Blaine said. He also said his agency has received food donations from families where a child has had a birthday party and asked the guests to bring canned foods instead of presents. The food is then donated to the warehouse.

"It's the kids that are coming up with the idea," Blaine said. "They know someone else who's done it and things like that catch on."

Since the beginning of the month, the Corning Community YMCA has been holding its first food drive.

"It seems every time we turn around, we are being asked to bring a canned good to an event, so the decision was made for us to get involved," said Ann Galvin, the volunteer at the YMCA who is heading the effort.

But unlike other food drives, each week in the Y's five-week program is dedicated to specific food items.

Last week, the agency was seeking peanut butter, jelly, cake mixes and Jell-O. Next week, the targeted food includes pasta and canned spaghetti sauce.

During the food drive's final week, soup and cereal will be the preferred items.

The food collected will then be given to Corning's Family Service Society, which will sort the items and deliver food-filled boxes to the families enrolled in its Family Focus program.

"This is a hard time of year," Galvin said. "We're heading into winter, so we decided to get involved.

"Sometimes, people usually reach into their cabinets and start grabbing things out for a food drive. But by putting out the preferred list each week, as people go shopping, they'll hopefully remember, see the items and maybe buy extra."

While some groups place their emphasis on canned and boxed foods -- which can be stored in warehouses for longer periods of time -- agencies such as Friendship Donations Network look to move perishable products such as fresh produce and whole-grained breads.

That business model, however, isn't without its hurdles when one considers the relatively short growing season here in the Northeast and the ups and downs of the farming industry.

"We see the increase in need, but at the same time we've also lost some of the donors," said Lisa Duggan, Friendship Donations' program coordinator.

"Some wholesale companies we dealt with went out of business and when the P&C markets were purchased by Tops Friendly Markets, they stopped giving us produce," she said.

"But they give us other things and other sources have increased their donations. For example, the USDA farm in Tompkins County and Cornell University's farm have planted extra rows of produce that they give to us."

Because of the perishable nature of the food it distributes, Food Donations Network has its community-based feeding partners, located in Tompkins, Schuyler, Tioga, Yates, Chemung and Seneca counties, pick up the produce directly from the donors according to a pre-arranged schedule.

"Our 24 programs come to Ithaca and they are assigned a number of stores where they pick up the food," Pines said.

"Every single day, our sources give us 20 or 30 different kinds of breads, bagels, rolls and pastries. They also put out 300 to 800 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables and we also have two sheds and they are assigned a quantity of food from the sheds.

To that same end, Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse operates produce farms at two Broome County locations and is seeking a grant to help it achieve its goal of tilling a total of four acres and distributing 15,000 pounds of produce next year.

By 2015, the agency hopes to increase its acreage to 10 acres and its production to 50,000 pounds of produce.

Distributing fresh food, which is more nutritious than boxed or canned food, comes with another issue -- how to cook it.

"A lot of people don't know what to do with fresh foods that don't come out of a can or a box," Pines said.

"We're finding we have to teach people how to use fresh foods. We use coordinators to handle the educational part. They meet people where they are and teach them how to cook the food."Thompson says her agency has partnered with Cornell Cooperative Extension to go to some food distribution sites, set up a table and do a fresh food tasting.

She also said the state Health Department offers a mobile program where nutritionists offer educational program in various community settings.

"But there's definitely more room for that type of work," she said.

Is it all working? For the most part, the food relief agency heads say "Yes." But the degree of success depends on who's doing the talking.

"We're not falling behind, but we're not getting ahead either," said Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse's Blaine.

"More people are being generous and we're able to distribute more food, but we would like to be able to stock up our warehouse."

Thompson said her agency appears to be making headway, partly because of the Food Bank's mobile food pantry, which allows the agency to increase the amount of food going out to the high-need sections in remote areas.

She also said the Food Bank is expanding its retail pick-up program to include high-volume grocers like Wegmans and Sam's Clubs, who donate items they feel can't be sold.

"We were doing it on a small scale for a little while, but we recently obtained a truck through a grant so now we'll be able to ramp it up," she said.

A Time to Give

A Time to Give is an effort by The Ithaca Journal to assist our community's not-for-profit human service agencies.

Items listed are things most needed by the agency to help our community. Agencies with wish lists can send items to ijnews@gannett.com.

Agency mission: to help build communities that care for all people by reducing poverty, promoting healthy individual and family life, collaborating with faith communities and advocating for social justice.

Two items most needed: 1. Blankets. 2. Men's and children's gloves.

For more information: www.catholiccharitiestt.org

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Don't go hungry: Free meals available in Triple Cities

November 20, 2010, 9:00 pm

Hungry? Don't have any money?

If that's the case, there is some place you can go to get a free meal in the Triple Cities every day of the week.

At least 16 sites in Binghamton and the Town of Union open their doors for those who might otherwise not eat, or would eat alone.

Robert Roe of Binghamton gives a number of reasons he goes to the Tabernacle United Methodist Church supper every Wednesday.

"The fellowship, good atmosphere, hospitality and really good food," says Robert, 44. He's unemployed now, and the free food helps stretch his money.

His friend, Joseph Barham, 61, eats at local churches on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays.

He could fill in his Tuesdays, too, if he wanted to make his way at 5 p.m. to the nearby First Presbyterian Church in Binghamton for its "Food at First Pres."

He'd be one of about 80 to 90 diners -- or more than 100 on a good day -- there, and he could eat two or even three helpings if the supply holds.

Many hands make light labor, and the sites often rely on volunteers from Binghamton University, scout groups, local churches and temples. St. Mary of the Assumption Church, on Court St. in Binghamton, had to shut its doors temporarily when its most active volunteer had to take a leave of absence.

"The Hands of Hope Church, which uses our building, does one meal a month, and West Presbyterian Church does one meal a month," says Barbara Bartholomew, who has been involved in the endeavor for eight years. "Volunteers from all those churches come in every week to serve and clean up."

Barham, who lives in Binghamton, can dine well on the weekends, too.

The local Salvation Army began serving meals to the needy in 1885, and it's still at it, dishing out breakfast every weekday and hot suppers Thursday through Monday evenings. Major Ron Lee says they've seen only a 6 percent increase in demand over the last year, but the demographic of their diners is changing.

"What we are seeing is a lot of new faces, not just the regulars," he says. "Families for the most part, especially at the food pantries."

Ryan Thogode brings her 1-year-old daughter, Trinity, there almost every day, and to the Tab meals on Wednesdays.

If these places weren't around, she says, they'd "probably starve."

The busy volunteers at First U.M.C. of Endicott prepare a free light lunch every weekday and on the third Saturday of each month. They also serve breakfast every Sunday from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.

"During the week it's about 15 to 20 a day, and weekends are 60 to 70," says Rev. Peggi Eller, who helps out at the church. "It's up 50 percent from last year."

It's much the same story at the Endwell U.M.C., where The Lord's Supper draws in 80 to 85 hungry people every Monday night.

"Ten years ago, it was about 40 to 50," says Karen Taylor, who has been involved in the endeavor much of that time.

Mt. Sinai's Soup Kitchen in Binghamton opens at 4 p.m. every Wednesday, but you'd better get there on time.

"By 5, we're on the road," says Traci A. Baskin, who gives her title as "willing worker."

They've opted to deliver within a 3- to 5-mile radius to those who can't come to the South Washington Street facility, "But I've done further; it depends on circumstances," said Baskin.

About 20 to 25 people volunteer periodically, but she doesn't want helpers who don't genuinely want to be there. Respect is as much a goal as physical nutrition.

"Sometimes people will starve or go without because they don't want the humiliation," she says.

Bill Palmer couldn't agree more.

"We're committed to restaurant-quality meals," said Palmer, who helps arrange the noon meals Sundays at Trinity Memorial Church in Binghamton. The beef stroganoff, chicken and biscuits, meatloaf and other meals are served on real dishes with real flatware, rather than plastic or paper.

He echoes the assessment of most who serve community meals: diners are generally fewer in the beginning of the month, but as food stamps get used, chairs fill up fast.

Another facet of Trinity's outreach is the Canteen on Wheels, which brings Saturday evening sandwiches to the Salvation Army for distribution to those who are chronically in need.

"We see some homeless people, too," says Rev. Wilfrid Guillaume, pastor of Grace Tabernacle on Glenwood Avenue. "But we don't have the resources (for all their needs) so we try to refer them to other help."

Their multicultural congregation serves hot food, thanks to the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) and their own resources. Other sites rely on purchasing food at discounted prices from the Food Bank of the Southern Tier or on support from their own groups and others.

Meals -- also restaurant-style -- at the 1,700-family Our Lady of Good Counsel parish come courtesy of local businesses, parishioners' generosity and donations given for post office food drives.

"We also run a van that picks people up at St. Ambrose Church and brings them back here to eat," explains Ginny Mouillesseaux, who spearheaded the project four-plus years ago.

Michael Haynes has no problem doing the prep work and manning the stove at both Boulevard and Sarah Jane Johnson U.M. churches, but he does appreciate being appreciated.

"I have people who come in to the dinner and ask me, 'Is there anything we can do besides just eat?'" he says. "I tell them, 'Come to the next dinner at 3:30, and I'll find something for you to do.'"

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Craft show to benefit CHOW

November 19, 2010, 7:50 am

A holiday craft show at Binghamton University on Nov. 27 will help raise money for the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse.

The event, which features more than 140 crafters from around the Southern Tier, will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the West Gym. In addition to the craft show, there will be baskets filled with crafts to help raise money for CHOW. Admission is $3, and food donations for CHOW are also sought.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

In Memory of Eugene F. Burns

Eugene F. Burns

Eugene F. Burns, 82, formerly of Johnson City, went to be with the Lord Sunday morning, November 14, 2010, at Willow Point Nursing Home. He was predeceased by his parents, Joseph and Bernice Burns. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Patricia Burns; his children and spouses, James and Lynn Burns, David Burns, Diane and James Mays, Donna and John Burchell, Beverly Burns, Robert and Marie Burns; ten grandchildren; and ten great-grandchildren; also several nieces and nephews. He was a member of St. James Church, Johnson City, and a Eucharistic Minister. He was an avid hunter, gardener, and loved to assemble model planes. Eugene was very devoted to his wife and family. The family would like to thank the staff of N2 at Willow Point Nursing Home for the care given to Eugene. Funeral services will be held at the J.F. Rice Funeral Home, Inc., 150 Main St., Johnson City, Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. at St. James Church, where a funeral mass will be offered. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery, Johnson City. The family will receive friends at the funeral home Tuesday from 9:30 a.m. until time of service. In lieu of flowers, those wishing may make memorial contributions to the St. James Church Memorial Fund, 147 Main St., Johnson City, NY, 13790, or CHOW, 3 Otseningo Street, Binghamton, NY 13903, in Eugene F. Burns' memory.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Kids to raise funds for CHOW

November 9, 2010, 7:10 am

Clayton Avenue Elementary School fifth-graders are holding a “Kids for CHOW” event from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 20 at the Oakdale Mall in Johnson City.

Anyone donating to the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse at the event will receive a hand-painted picture from one of the Vestal students. All donations will be given to CHOW to help feed those in need during the holiday season.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Choruses for CHOW Benefit Concert Dec. 4

From Broome County Coucil of Churches:

The 7th Annual Choruses for CHOW Benefit Concert will be held Saturday, December 4, at 2 p.m. at the Sarah Jane Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church, 380 Main St., Johnson City.

The concert, which raises money for the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) of the Broome County Council of Churches, will feature the following groups which are all non-profit organizations:

--Southerntiersmen Barbershop Chorus

--Binghamton Downtown Singers
--Bronzissimo! Bell Choir

--Carousel Harmony Chorus and Young Women in Harmony Chorus

--Endwell Community Chorus

The concert is sponsored by the Southerntiersmen Barbershop Chorus.

Tickets purchased in advance are $8, or $10 at the door, and can be purchased by calling the Council of Churches at 724-9130, or by contacting a chorus member.

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Chorus concert to benefit CHOW

November 11, 2010, 9:13 am

The seventh annual Choruses for CHOW benefit concert will be held at 2 p.m. Dec. 4 at the Sarah Jane Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church, located at 380 Main St. in Johnson City.

The event, which raises money for the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse, will feature the Southerntiersmen Barbershop Chorus, the Binghamton Downtown Singers, the Bronzissimo! Bell Choir, the Carousel Harmony Chorus, Young Women in Harmony Chorus and the Endwell Community Chorus.

The concert is sponsored by the Southerntiersmen. Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door. You can purchase tickets by calling the Broome County Council of Churches at 724-9130 or by contacting a chorus member.

— Jennifer Micale

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thank you to Mary Palmisano's family for asking for donations to the Council

Mary (Tedeschi) Palmisano, 98, of Endwell, died at her residence Sunday, November 7, 2010. She was predeceased by her husband John F. in 1979; a daughter Grace-Marie Harvey in 2010; her parents, Joseph and Isabella Tedeschi; brothers, Frank, Martin, Michael and Louis Tedeschi and a sister, Grace Suggs. She is survived by a daughter and sons-in-law, Isabel and Louis Montone, Boynton Beach, FL and Wayne Harvey, Endwell; her grandchildren, John Harvey, Vestal; Catherine and Scott Denmon, Endicott; Christopher Montone and his fiancée, Linda Watson, Germany; Robert and Nancy Montone, East Aurora, NY and Lisa Montone, Cary, NC; eight great grandchildren; three sisters and brothers-in-law, Florence Zucco; Phyllis and Gene Ash, all of Endwell and Lucille and Michael Rossi, Deltona, FL; a brother, Anthony Tedeschi, Endicott; brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, Vito and Mary; Dominick and Doris; Nicholas and Mary and Cosamina; also several nieces and nephews. She was a member of St. Anthony of Padua Church, Endicott and was co-owner of Palmisano's Market, Binghamton. Some of Mary's memberships included Alhambra Sidona Caravan #212 Sultana Auxiliary, St. Ann's Club, Catholic Daughters of America, a Republican Committee Woman and was a Meals on Wheels volunteer. The Palmisano family wishes to thank Dr. Lazarus Gehring, the staffs of Endwell Family Physicians and Good Shepherd Village at Endwell, for their loving and compassionate care given to Mary. Funeral Services will be held Friday, 9:30 am from the Allen Memorial Home, 511-513 East Main Street, Endicott, followed by a Funeral Mass at St. Anthony of Padua Church at 10 am. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery, Johnson City. The family will receive friends at the Allen Memorial Home Thursday from 4-7 pm. In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy in Mary's memory may be made to Broome County Council of Churches, 3 Otseningo Street, Binghamton, NY 13901.
Published in Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin from November 9 to November 11, 2010

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Kids to raise funds for CHOW

November 9, 2010, 7:10 am
Clayton Avenue Elementary School fifth-graders are holding a “Kids for CHOW” event from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 20 at the Oakdale Mall in Johnson City.

Anyone donating to the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse at the event will receive a hand-painted picture from one of the Vestal students. All donations will be given to CHOW to help feed those in need during the holiday season.

— Jennifer Micale

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Holiday Train to make Nov. 27 stop

November 9, 2010, 7:58 am

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train will stop at the Binghamton East rail yard on Conklin Avenue at 9:15 p.m. Nov. 27. The event will help the Broome County Council of Churches and its Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse feed the needy during the holiday season.

The brightly-lit train will stop in Binghamton for about a half-hour and collect food and cash donations for CHOW. Entertainment will include music by Canadian artist Melanie Doane.

— Jennifer Micale

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Canadian Pacific Holiday Train Benefits CHOW

Published: 11/08 3:32 pm
From Broome County Council of Churches:

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train will stop at the Binghamton East Rail Yard on Conklin Avenue at 9: 15 p.m. Saturday, November 27, to help the Broome County Council of Churches and its CHOW Program feed the hungry during the holiday season.

The public is invited to this holiday event where the brightly lighted freight train will bring awareness to Broome County in its fight against hunger. Entertainment will include music by Melanie Doane, a product of a musical family and one of Canada’s most talented and diverse musicians and entertainers who plays the guitar, violin, mandolin, ukulele, piano and bass, and has six Top 40 charting singles in Canada.

The brightly decorated freight train appearance helps collect food and cash donations and donates it all to CHOW (Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse). The holiday train is a special attraction for children who are encouraged to bring their families along for the festivities. Spectators are encouraged to bring food items or a cash donation to the show.

Since 1999, the Holiday Train program in Canada and the U.S. has raised $4.8 million and generated almost 2.3 million pounds of food for local food programs like CHOW. This year the Holiday Train will stop in 40 towns and cities in eight U.S. states.

The Holiday Train will stop in Binghamton for about 30 minutes, so bring the family for entertainment and a good time, and benefit CHOW at the same time.

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Thank you Heiss family for thinking of CHOW during your time of loss

William J. Heis Jr., 78, of Johnson City, died Friday, November 5, 2010 at Our Lady of Lourdes. He was predeceased by his parents, William and Irene Heis. He is survived by his loving partner, Joan Sexton, Johnson City; cousins, Trude and Irwin Benjamin, Conklin; his best friends, the Sexton Girls, Barbara and Kenneth Bohling, Owego and their children, Keith and Susan Bohling, Albany, NY, Matthew and Julianne Bohling, Seattle, WA. He was a graduate of Binghamton University and a retiree of the IBM Corp. Mr. Heis has been known in the area for his participation in theatrical productions with the Ti-Ahwaga Players and the Civic Theatre. Funeral services will be held Tuesday at 11:00am at the Barber Memorial Home, Inc., 428 Main St., Johnson City. Burial will be in Vestal Hills Memorial Park. The family will receive friends at the Barber Memorial Home on Tuesday from 10-11am. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to CHOW, 3 Osteningo Street, Binghamton, NY, 13903.

Published in Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin from November 7 to November 9, 2010 Email

Chaplain tends to members of the flock serving time

By Valerie Zehl •vzehl@gannett.com • November 6, 2010, 5:50 pm

On Sundays, Cris Mogenson can be found serving behind an altar or in a pew with his family.

On weekdays, look for him in jail.

For a decade now, Cris, 49, has served as coordinating chaplain in Broome County's correctional facility.

Only once did an inmate get in his face.

"It sounds like you're trying to threaten me," Cris snapped. "Listen, I'm the only friend you've got in here."

That lion became a lamb.

Now, Cris looks with a parent's pride at the former prisoners he calls "success stories."

He fights exasperation with the ones he sees behind bars again and again. It can be frustrating, this jailhouse ministry, but it's his calling and he wouldn't have it any other way.

He did try.

Answering an altar call in 1979 at the Maranatha Church of the Nazarene near his home in Bergen County, New Jersey, started him on a course he resisted with all his might.

"I had a real wrestling with God," he says. "For me, if I didn't enter into full-time ministry, to call myself a Christian would be a fraud."

His eye was on a career in medicine, but like Jonah dumped on an unexpected shore, he soon found himself a seminarian.

In 1992 he was ordained in the Church of the Nazarene. His first assignment: a Latino congregation.

"Here's a kid who flunked Spanish in high school, and my first church is a mile from the border of Mexico," Cris jokes.

He served as pastor elsewhere, including at the Free Methodist congregation near his current home in Windsor, but the "adminis-trivia" of heading a congregation took him from the hands-on work he loved most.

He had worked the front lines of the battle for men's souls before -- with prisoners during college and as a drug and alcohol counselor at the Salvation Army facility on Griswold Street in Binghamton -- and he felt drawn to jail ministry again.

One phone call alerted him to an opening with his present employer, the Broome County Council of Churches, where he's a listening ear to the prisoners and those who deal with them.

Part of his job has him intercepting little ones when they get off the school bus because Mommy can't be there. She was just put in jail.

His border collie ("We jokingly call her 'the borderline collie,' he says) came to him by way of a prisoner who suddenly found himself in no position to care for the canine.

"I can't do that too often, obviously," he says, hands splayed. If he could, though, he probably would. He's known to be that kind of guy.

He just about gushes when he talks about the Jail Ministry staff and volunteers, 100 or so individuals who make him shake his head in admiration when words fail him.

Elizabeth Hayes, part of the Jail Ministry team, points out that they could confine their efforts to working with prisoners while they're incarcerated. Instead the team chooses to reach out for the greater good. She designed and wrote grants for a reentry program, which supports prisoners when they get out of jail.

"He's interested in giving Christmas to the inmates and to their children," she says. "He includes the families and takes an interest in what happens after their time in jail is ended."

One of her and Cris' favorite programs is also that of their boss, the Rev. Dr. Joseph Sellepack, executive director of the BCCC.

"In their literacy program, they have inmates read books into a voice recorder to be converted into a CD, then they send the book and CD home to the inmates' children," "Dr. Joe" says.

Cris deals with a very tough population at the jail, including many with mental illness, Dr. Joe points out, yet Cris can see beyond external barriers to the hearts of those he serves.

County Sheriff David Harder is in charge of the jail.

Of Cris, he says: "Very hardworking and always ready to help other people, despite his own problems."

Those problems come in the form of an ongoing sorrow: Son Bradley has an incurable mitochondrial disease and autism that tightly circumscribe his life. Brother Wesley, 18, and sister Kristin, 16, attend the Oak Tree program at BOCES. Both have been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome.

"I like Daddy to read to me," says Bradley, 11. Cris is their youth leader at the Windsor United Methodist Church they and their mom, Cheryl, attend.

"It's nice to have another clergyperson in the congregation," says Pastor Douglas Clark.

Cris switched his ordination over to the Free Methodist Church in 1997, and now fills in at Presbyterian, Lutheran and other pulpits as needed. He tends to the flock of those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS at Southern Tier AIDS Program (STAP) retreats. His extended family of faith also includes Baptists, Catholics and Muslims -- such as fellow chaplains Father Stan Gerlock and Imam Kasim Kapuz."We're very ecumenical," Cris says with a grin.

His calendar bulges with board and other group meetings, and he's regional manager of the American Correctional Chaplains Association, overseeing the Northeast from Virginia to Maine. His hours at home are precious, and precious few.

"I know he looks forward to the opportunities when he can take the boys fishing," Cheryl says.

He talks to his kids about God's love, about seeing themselves and others as God sees them -- the same message he brings into the hearts of prisoners.

"I tell them we're a mirror reflecting God's image, but sometimes that mirror is cracked or tarnished," Cris says. "But it can be repaired."

Volunteer information

If you're interested in donating time to the Jail Ministry or other projects of the Broome County Council of Churches, call (607) 724-9130 or visit broomecouncil.net.

At a glance

Name: Cris Mogenson.

Age: 49.

Hometown: River Edge, N.J.; now lives in Windsor.

Family: Wife Cheryl; sons Bradley, 11, and Wesley, 18; daughter Kristin, 16.

Most unexpected hobbies: Civil War reenactor; actor in dinner theater at church; musician and music collector -- everything from the Bulgarian Women's Choir to Pygmy Water Drums to Kansas -- but Celtic is his all-time favorite.

Self-assessment from 1979: "Jesus freak, driving a VW van."

Previous jobs: Volunteer firefighter; emergency medical services technician; residential director of inner-city rescue mission, then its executive director; chaplain at Herr's Snack Foods factory (quote from fellow Jail Ministry teammate Father Stan Gerlock: "So you were the chip monk.")

Personal experiences he doesn't talk much about: Having heard an "almost-audible" voice counseling him to stop what he was doing and go to the school -- where circumstances converged at that instant to put him into his first pastoring position.

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thank you for your genosity to the Council, Mrs. Kennedy!

D. Jean Kennedy, 89, passed away the morning of November 2, 2010 at the Lourdes Hospice unit after a brief stay. She is survived by her niece Dorn Black of Vestal, and Dorn's daughters Darcia and Danielle Black of Raleigh, N. C. Also surviving are her cousins: Craig and Marge Waldo of Apalachin, NY and their children; Donald and Jewel, who were extremely supportive during her battle with Parkinson's Disease; David, Barbara, Douglas, Mark, and Nanette; and Gary Waldo of Bath, NY and his children: Dwight, Duane and Deborah. Jean was a kind and generous person, and will be missed by many; human and canine friends alike. She was a graduate of Westminster College, and SUNY Albany with BA degrees, and received her MSLS from Syracuse University. She taught Social Studies in Candor, Port Jervis and Vestal, and was librarian in the Vestal Schools and retired as Coordinator of Library Services from the Vestal Central School System.She was an Elder of First Presbyterian Church in Endicott, and a former member of Delta Kappa Gamma.
Funeral Service will be held Friday evening, November 5, at 7:00 p.m. at the Coleman & Daniels Funeral Home, 300 E. Main St., Endicott. Reverend Janice Devine, Co-Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Endicott, will officiate. The family will receive friends on Friday from 6:00 p.m. until service time at 7:00 p.m. at the funeral home. The burial will be held on Saturday at Riverhurst Cemetery at the convenience of the family. Contributions may be made to the Memorial Fund of the First Presbyterian Church of Endicott, 29 Grant Avenue, or the charity of one's choice.

Published in Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin from November 4 to November 5, 2010

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Obituary asking for donations to CHOW

Harriet "Polly" Humphrey

Johnson City resident Harriet "Polly" Humphrey, age 94, died peacefully in her sleep on November 3, 2010 at Lourdes Hospital. Please join the family on Saturday, November 6th, at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, located at 734 River Road in Chenango Bridge, NY, for an hour of remembrance to begin at 12:30 pm. There will be a church service immediately afterwards, to begin at 1:30pm. Family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, or to the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW). Polly was born in Scranton, PA, on September 13, 1916. After graduating from Scranton High School in 1934, Polly married the love of her life, Ed Humphrey, in 1938. Her beloved "Eddy" preceded her in death on October 23, 1996, after 58 years of marriage. Also preceding her in death were her sisters Elizabeth Pell and Gertrude McGeehan. Without question, Polly's greatest joy was found in spending time with the wonderful family she and Ed created, as well as with friends and extended family. Polly is survived by her sister Margaret Hamilton; oldest son, Jack Humphrey (wife Dorothy) of East Syracuse, NY; daughter Peggy Knox (husband Dave), of Chenango Forks, NY; and youngest son, Bill Humphrey (wife Kathy), of Chadds Ford, PA. Beloved family includes grandchildren Tracie (Dan) Begeal, Todd (Kris) Humphrey, Jeff Humphrey, Josh (Jenn) Humphrey, Jennifer (Jim) Van Luvender, Heidi (Dave) Young, Becky (Bill) Morgan, Meredith Holden, Paige Holden; Great Grandchildren Emily Humphrey, Andrew Begeal, James Van Luvender, Beth Van Luvender, Kaitlyn Van Luvender, Aimee (Scott) Hogan, Madeline Humphrey, Leah Humphrey, Catherine Humphrey, Autumn Morgan, Amanda Morgan, Sara Morgan, Roger Hart; Great Great Grandchild Zachary Hogan; and many beloved nieces and nephews. Polly's family would like to express the following: "What moves through us is a silence, a quiet sadness, a longing for one more day, one more word, one more touch. Ninety four years was still too soon for us... we were not ready to say good-bye. But little by little, we begin to remember not just that you died, but that you lived. And that your life gave us memories too beautiful to forget."

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Six songwriters to perform at showcase Saturday at Binghamton's Cyber Cafe West

November 3, 2010, 2:35 pm

The latest edition of the Songwriter Showcase at Cyber Café West has lined up six performers for Saturday night.

The featured singer/songwriter, BettySoo, is a nationally touring musician whose latest album, "Heat Sin Water Skin," draws from folk, gospel, country and more.

Also on the bill for the 9 p.m. show will be Brittany Garrison, Joanna Yaeger, Hunter Davidsohn and Spencer Rowell. Greg Meisner will perform a 20-minute preshow at 8:30.

Admission is free, but organizer John Kanazawich suggests a donation of $5 and 1 item of nonperishable food. The concert also will be collecting food and funds for the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse and WHY-Hunger. Cyber Café is located at 176 Main St. in Binghamton.

To learn more, go online to http://www.songwritershowcase.org/.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bank to hold shredding events

November 1, 2010

REGION Chemung Canal Trust Co. said that it will host document-shredding events from noon to 3 p.m. at the following branch office locations to help people reduce their exposure to identity theft:

* Saturday, Route 17C, Owego (next to the Owego Treadway Inn).

* Nov. 13 at 100 Rano Blvd., Vestal (in the Weis Markets shopping plaza).

The events are being presented in conjunction with Rogers Service Group and WIVT-TV.

The events are open to individuals only, not businesses. There is no charge for the service, but the sponsors are asking that those who attend bring nonperishable food items for donation to Tioga Opportunities and Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse.

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Valerie Zehl Neighbors: AmeriCorps provides a way to give back to community

November 1, 2010, 5:45 pm

Jason Fleischer and Marsha Bailey are Binghamton University graduates now serving at the Council of Churches through AmeriCorps. "I'm developing skills myself while helping to feed people," Jason says. "It's a win-win-win situation all the way around." (VALERIE ZEHL/Staff Photo)

After Susan Beaudoin, of Apalachin, graduated from St. Mary's College of Maryland, she faithfully shipped her resume to potential employers but -- nada.

Then a position back home caught her eye.

Now she's in her second half-time term of paid service with AmeriCorps because she loved the first one so much.

"I'm currently working to promote local foods," Susan, 23, said. "And I'd like to continue in that line of work."

About 75,000 opportunities are available annually for adults of all ages and backgrounds through the organization's three primary programs: AmeriCorps State and National (working with more than 2,900 nonprofit and community groups), AmeriCorps Vista (to fight poverty) and AmeriCorps NCCC (a residential program for young adults with projects in public safety, disaster preparedness and relief, environment and youth development), explains Andrea Todd from the Corporation for National and Community Service in Washington, D. C.

Locally, Habitat for Humanity uses the talents of two AmeriCorps VISTA members, says Mary Vivona, who works out of the Endicott office. She won't have openings again until next summer, but suggests any interested adults check out opportunities at the AmeriCorps website, www.americorps.gov.

Some positions offer an opportunity for relocation, depending upon where they are, she points out.

Jason Fleischer, 22, came from Middletown to attend Binghamton University and he's staying here to serve in AmeriCorps State at the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW).

"I like Binghamton and wanted to give back," says Jason, who lives on the West Side.

Those who have student loans or who are anticipating more schooling appreciate the possibility of a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award of $5,350.

Whitney Point-based Rural Health Network of South Central New York works with Susan, Jason and a hefty volume of other members.

"This contract year, September 2010 through December 2011, we have 12 full-time (1,710-hour) positions, 10 half-time (907-hour) positions, and 11 part-time (303- or 455-hour) positions," says Julie Pitts, RHN's administrative services coordinator. "Current full-time members receive a living allowance stipend of $11,800 during service, college loan forbearance on most federal loans in good standing and health insurance."

Maybe the best news is that RHN is almost always recruiting for positions at 20 sites in Broome, Tioga and outlying counties. They include the Southern Tier AIDS Program in Johnson City, and the Hope Dispensary of the Southern Tier and Dr. Garabed A. Fattal Community Free Clinic in Binghamton.

Marsha Bailey, of Binghamton, serves in programs at the Broome County Council of Churches, working with seniors and the housebound to help them make good food choices.

"It gives me a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day," says Marsha, 28. "I learn from them, and they learn from me."

CHOW director Ed Blaine appreciates having Jason there, particularly when AmeriCorps picks up half the tab for the full-time worker's wages.

"It allows us to focus someone who can run with it on a certain project," he says. Jason subs for him at meetings as needed, as well as rounds up and guides volunteers in the warehouse and the community garden in Conklin and other tasks.

"I'm developing skills myself while helping to feed people," Jason says, "So it's a win-win-win situation all around."

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